SH | Blog

In the middle of the desert you can say anything you want

16 Sep 2016

Improving concentration, working memory, fluid intelligence, etc. etc. etc. + overall life satisfaction

A couple of thoughts of how I could improve my concentration and working memory, since it’s the main mental “block” I feel I should and have a chance to tackle.

  1. Dual-N-Back

    1. http://lou.wtf/banal-duck/  is currently my favourite one; also https://www.brainturk.com/dual-n-back
    2. Gwern’s DNB FAQ is very comprehensive
    3. Length
      1. “Aim for 20 sessions per day (about 25 minutes), 4 or 5 times per week. […] Intensive training every day may not be optimal because the brain needs time to learn, adapt and reconfigure itself. A training schedule of 4-5 days per week seems to be the most efficient.” 1

      2. 20 hours in no more than 6 weeks 2 — that would be more than 30 mins every day or about 1h 4 days a week

      3. ~45 minutes two times a week seems to be the most effective 3

      4. I’ll do 1h two days a week divided in periods of two + every time I’m bored or need distraction (basically what I did with aoeu.eu)

    4. Strategies
      1. Focus is to improve overall functioning, not just dual-n-back performance

      2. Rehearsal (basically throwing the letters in the phonological loop? Sounds very counteproductive for me) is the only one that helps 4

      3. Creating lists in the mind and working with them could work too:5

        Spoiler remember a sequence of 4 numbers. Start with (1,1,1,1); add the last two modulo 10 to get the new #1, shift #1,2,3 right. So if we were using Haskell:

        let f (a,b,c,d) = (let x = ((c+d)mod10,a,b,c) in [x] ++ f x) in take 100 $ f (1,1,1,1)

        [(2,1,1,1),(2,2,1,1),(2,2,2,1),(3,2,2,2),(4,3,2,2),(4,4,3,2),(5,4,4,3),(7,5,4,4),(8,7,5,4),(9,8,7,5),(2,9,8,7),(5,2,9,8),(7,5,2,9),(1,7,5,2),(7,1,7,5),(2,7,1,7),(8,2,7,1),(8,8,2,7),(9,8,8,2),(0,9,8,8),(6,0,9,8),(7,6,0,9),(9,7,6,0),(6,9,7,6),(3,6,9,7),(6,3,6,9),(5,6,3,6),(9,5,6,3),(9,9,5,6),(1,9,9,5),(4,1,9,9),(8,4,1,9),(0,8,4,1),(5,0,8,4),(2,5,0,8),(8,2,5,0),(5,8,2,5),(7,5,8,2),(0,7,5,8),(3,0,7,5),(2,3,0,7),(7,2,3,0),(3,7,2,3),(5,3,7,2),(9,5,3,7),(0,9,5,3),(8,0,9,5),(4,8,0,9),(9,4,8,0),(8,9,4,8),(2,8,9,4),(3,2,8,9),(7,3,2,8),(0,7,3,2),(5,0,7,3),(0,5,0,7),(7,0,5,0),(5,7,0,5),(5,5,7,0),(7,5,5,7),(2,7,5,5),(0,2,7,5),(2,0,2,7),(9,2,0,2),(2,9,2,0),(2,2,9,2),(1,2,2,9),(1,1,2,2),(4,1,1,2),(3,4,1,1),(2,3,4,1),(5,2,3,4),(7,5,2,3),(5,7,5,2),(7,5,7,5),(2,7,5,7),(2,2,7,5),(2,2,2,7),(9,2,2,2),(4,9,2,2),(4,4,9,2),(1,4,4,9),(3,1,4,4),(8,3,1,4),(5,8,3,1),(4,5,8,3),(1,4,5,8),(3,1,4,5),(9,3,1,4),(5,9,3,1),(4,5,9,3),(2,4,5,9),(4,2,4,5),(9,4,2,4),(6,9,4,2),(6,6,9,4),(3,6,6,9),(5,3,6,6),(2,5,3,6),(9,2,5,3)]

        This probably has bad properties vis-a-vis randomness, but I’m not sure any of them matter. If we have a hard time remembering 5 or 6 back, we’re certainly not going to be worried about remembering a few hundred or thousand cycles ago!

        Trying it out for 10 minutes, it seems to work well enough. Even just 4 is initially quite a challenge for me.

  2. Mindfullness meditation

    1. Self-explanatory.
    2. Probably twice 20 mins a day?
  3. Image-streaming

    1. From Project Renaissance; short version
    2. 10-30 minutes, describing in as much sensory detail as possible (not just sight)
    3. Describe as fast as possible without thinking or judging if something’s worth being mentioned
    4. “Why are you here as part of my answer?”
    5. “What’s the same?”, “Relate” (how does it relate to my question?), “Debrief” (listen and make a short summary)
    6. 2 times a week, 30 mins before bed
  4. Spaced repetition

    1. Anki
    2. Language
    3. Studying
    4. Random small things
  5. Sport

    1. Something like this, but 3×12
      1. Every day 30 mins
    2. Running
      1. twice per week

To actually succeed with this, I’ll need to create, finally, stable routines.

In my next post I’ll take care of this.

Also relevant, for sometime later, potentially promising, also by Win Wegner:


  1. http://brainworkshop.sourceforge.net/tutorial.html  ↩︎

  2. http://www.iqmindware.com/iq-mindware/training-strategies/  ↩︎

  3. https://www.gwern.net/DNB%20FAQ#spacing ↩︎

  4. http://www.iqmindware.com/iq-mindware/training-strategies/  ↩︎

  5. n-backing without software? ↩︎

Nel mezzo del deserto posso dire tutto quello che voglio.